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Saburi pleads not guilty as DPP fails produce Covid-19 evidence

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By PHILIP MUYANGA

Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi on Thursday pleaded not guilty to failure to comply with a directive contrary to the Public Health Act.

However, in a reprieve for Mr Saburi, Senior Resident Magistrate Ritah Amwayi dismissed an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seeking to detain him at Manyani Maximum Prison.

The court said that the move would be a violation of his rights, while noting that the DPP did not provide documents to support the argument that the DG had been sick with Covid-19.

“The court has not been provided with a certificate of a medical officer of health, how can he be isolated?” posed the magistrate in her ruling.

The Senior Resident Magistrate said that under the Public Health Act, prison facilities are not envisaged as places of isolation as it poses a risk to the prison population.

State prosecutor Edgar Mulamula had on Monday applied to have Mr Saburi held at Manyani Maximum Security Prison to enable police complete investigations.

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CHARGES

Mr Saburi was charged with wilfully exposing himself in public while suffering from an infectious disease without taking proper precautions, contrary to the Public Health Act.

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He allegedly between March 6 and March 22,within Kilifi and while suffering from Covid-19, wilfully and unlawfully without taking any precautions exposed himself in public.

UHURU COMMENTS

Defence lawyer George Kithi in court raised issue with comments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta in an interview with a local vernacular radio station regarding Mr Saburi.

The lawyer reckons that the DG was arrested because the Head of State ordered it.

“My client was arrested not because he committed an offence but because the president said so,” argued Mr Kithi.

The court, however, said a proper and justifiable verdict will be rendered over the matter in accordance with the evidence presented.

Ms Amwayi also warned against discussing the case in public.

Mr Saburi will now be detained till April 15 when his bond application will be heard.



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